What is the Difference Between a Revocable and Irrevocable Trust

Sep 3, 2010

The primary difference between a Revocable and Irrevocable Trust is flexibility. Revocable means you can make changes to your trust. Irrevocable means that once it is created the terms are final and you cannot alter fiduciaries or beneficiaries.

What Revocable Does

A Revocable Living Trust is a common estate planning document that can help property to easily pass from a decedent to his or her beneficiaries. Because a Revocable Living Trust allows you to make changes as you need, you can alter your Trust throughout your life. You can fund new property or assets into it, change your beneficiaries or even name a new successor trustee.

There are three common reasons to use a Trust. First, a well executed and fully funded Trust can help your estate avoid probate. Second, you can use your Living Trust as part of a disability plan. If you should become mentally incapacitated, your successor trustee would step forward and manage your Trust assets for you. Many people also use a Trust for privacy. A Last Will and Testament is a public legal document. After your death, anyone can obtain a record of your holdings. With a Trust, your estate assets and beneficiaries are kept private.

One problem with a Revocable Trust is that you cannot use it for asset protection. The assets within are still considered yours.

What Irrevocable Does

An Irrevocable Trust is one you cannot change after it is created. This type of trust is common for asset protection. Once you transfer items into the Trust, they no longer belong to you and cannot be used to settle a debt or lawsuit. Irrevocable trusts are also a great way to minimize estate and income taxes. Because the assets in such a trust do not belong to you, they will not be included in your estate’s tax liability. A charitable irrevocable trust allows you to donate to a cause of your choice upon your death and receive an income tax deduction for the year that you place funds within the Trust.

When Revocable Becomes Irrevocable

If you have a Revocable Living Trust, it will become Irrevocable upon your death. Your living trust can break apart into several irrevocable lifetime trusts for the benefit of your spouse, children and grandchildren or other beneficiaries.

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